Travelogues – ScrollDroll http://www.scrolldroll.com When you Scroll, We Droll Thu, 28 Feb 2019 12:27:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.9 http://www.scrolldroll.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/cropped-logo-16x16-32x32.png Travelogues – ScrollDroll http://www.scrolldroll.com 32 32 Mahabaleshwar – A Mountainous Tryst http://www.scrolldroll.com/mahabaleshwar-a-mountainous-tryst/ Fri, 21 Sep 2018 11:42:56 +0000 http://www.scrolldroll.com/?p=16470

We turned on the keys to the journey from Pune, and a three-hour long drive led us to our destination for the weekend, Mahabaleshwar. A quaint, lush hill-station at the heart of the Western Ghats in Maharashtra. Located in the Sahyadri mountain range, Mahabaleshwar served as the summer capital of the erstwhile Bombay province. On […]

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We turned on the keys to the journey from Pune, and a three-hour long drive led us to our destination for the weekend, Mahabaleshwar. A quaint, lush hill-station at the heart of the Western Ghats in Maharashtra. Located in the Sahyadri mountain range, Mahabaleshwar served as the summer capital of the erstwhile Bombay province. On the way to Mahabaleshwar, we stopped at The Lingmala waterfalls in Panchagani. It was one of the most beautiful places in the entire stretch of the road journey. The water was crystal clear and almost as cold as a chilly winter morning breeze. Spending time at the waterfall washed away all the fatigue from the drive and the cold water refreshed us for the rest of the journey up to Mahabaleshwar.

Lingmala waterfalls, Panchgani

Upon reaching Mahabaleshwar, we revelled in the deliciousness of authentic Maharashtrian cuisine. The food was wholesome, tasted very different from the usual Indian food. The exotic spices in the food added to its deliciousness, taking our taste buds on a roller coaster ride.

On our way to Mahabaleshwar, we drove to Mapro Gardens. The garden park was set up by Mapro and is used to cultivate strawberries. They also produce chocolates there, along with different kinds of jams, squashes, and candies. I could not stop myself from cheating on my diet plan and munched on all the sweetmeats. It was totally worth it.

Mapro garden

Lodwick and Elephant Head Points were the two main attractions that we covered around Mahabaleshwar. Lodwick Point is about 5 km to the west of Mahabaleshwar and the unique landscape of the place provides an exquisite view of the Pratapgarh Fort and Elphinstone Point. Elephant Head Point is a little further ahead of Lodwick Point and it gets its name from the rock formations that resemble the head of elephants. Visitors flock to these places all year round and it is an excellent spot for photography and witness nature’s scenic beauty.

Lodwick point, Mahabaleshwar
Elephant head, Mahabaleshwar

One of most splendorous experiences I went through at Mahabaleshwar was boating on the Venna Lake. A chill in the wind hit the mist covered lake, making it all the more romantic and jaw-droppingly beautiful.
The smart backpack that I had with me on this journey, is one hell of an invention by The Carriall Co. The anti-theft system is the most important feature of the bag. It comes with a Bluetooth device that you place in the bag, which can then be tracked using a smartphone through the Carriall app; so you’ll always know where your bag is. Another cool thing about the bag is that it has multi pockets to stuff everything that you need. The pockets make it is easy to organise your things and I had no problem fitting my camera, lenses, stabiliser, chargers and travel essentials into the backpack. Even though I had so many things, the backpack still had some space to spare. There was a continuous light drizzle at Mahabaleshwar and I was not carrying an umbrella; this was not an issue as the backpack is completely waterproof. Not a single droplet of water made it past the waterproof outer layer of the backpack. This is such a blessing for a place like Mahabaleshwar, where it can rain at any time of the day. As we hiked around clicking photos and shooting videos, my phone’s battery started to drain a lot of juice, but the Carriall Backpack came to my rescue. It has a USB port that can be connected to your power bank and you can charge your phone on the go. You get to carry everything you need along with an access port for your power-bank in this amazing backpack. It is a definite must-have for all travel enthusiasts who love carrying multiple types of equipment and essentials on their journey.

The journey was fruitful and relaxing, it was a calming experience smack in the middle of the year. The lush hills of the Western Ghats and the continuous drizzle made this getaway a very special one. India is truly incredible and a place like Mahabaleshwar just shows how incredible India really is. Hope you like the place as much as I did.

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Paragliding across the skies in Bir Billing http://www.scrolldroll.com/paragliding-in-bir-billing/ Mon, 16 Jul 2018 13:53:04 +0000 http://www.scrolldroll.com/?p=15448

Himachal Pradesh is synonymous to adventure sports, in India. The hub of road trippers, trekkers and all other adrenaline junkies. We too had one of the one such experience at Himachal, Paragliding at India’s First and Highest Paragliding Site, Bir Billing. On 22nd June, we boarded a flight to Dharamshala for an experience of a […]

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Himachal Pradesh is synonymous to adventure sports, in India. The hub of road trippers, trekkers and all other adrenaline junkies. We too had one of the one such experience at Himachal, Paragliding at India’s First and Highest Paragliding Site, Bir Billing. On 22nd June, we boarded a flight to Dharamshala for an experience of a lifetime. Paragliding over the Himalayas and capturing it on Panasonic’s Lumix cameras. After de-boarding the flight at the beautiful hilltop airport in Dharamshala, we headed to the campsite which was our home for the trip. On our way up-hill, we stopped for lunch at Sarovar Portico in Palampur. The revolving restaurant there Cloud 7, was a delight and food was amazing too.

View from Sarovar Portico, Palampur
Lunch at Sarovar Portico, Palampur
 

We quickly covered the rest of the road journey and reached the campsite before the day ended. In the evening we had a leisurely walk up to the take-off point, I was stunned. Literally stunned. A vast open meadow, a nerve chilling slope and clouds swaying across a deep crimson sky. It was more than perfect.
We returned to our luxury tents at the campsite before nightfall to relax, snooze and refresh. It was then that we attended the orientation workshop to guide us with the features of the Panasonic Lumix G7, GH5, GH5S, G85, cameras. The awesomeness of the evening was beautifully complemented by drink, dance, bonfire, barbecue and a  lavish dinner.

We woke up to a breathtaking view the next day, magestic mountains, beautiful sky, greenery all around… As soon as we gobbled down the breakfast provided at the campsite, we were pumped up and headed up to the take-off point. Soon, the gear was set up and the first professional pilot took off towards the horizon. A loud cheer roared and within moments we are airborne. Strong winds fluttered loose ends of our clothes, and I could feel the gust in my hair through the protective helmet. My camera was set up but I lost track and forgot to shoot my take off. Who wouldn’t? 20 minutes of pure bliss and 20 minutes behind the camera, but completely in the moment. The worries of the world escaped me, and the rush of hormonal amines took over everything that I am, I was and I will be. The Himalayas had me swaying in oblivion. It was an experience like no other. 

After I landed, I started shooting each paraglider that followed. The entire scene looked theatrical, and we captured some splendid photos and videos.
We said goodbye to the pilots and hiked to the Land of Waterfalls, Gunehar River Pool & Waterfalls. The place had earned this moniker due to its unique landscape and numerous waterfalls. We had to cover a beautiful and serene trek of about an hour from the landing point. With the great Panasonic Lumix cameras in our hands we captured stunning photographs and awesome 4K, cinemagraph and timelapse videos. It was an amazing learning experience, like no other that I have ever had.

Tsering Jong Monastery, Bir

Post this we were taken to some of the most tranquil monasteries and it was there that our bellies rejoiced over a scintillating hot lunch. We then headed to check out some of the local sightseeing areas. The best part about this was the fact that we explored the area on mountain bikes. We visited some of the most tranquil monasteries and quaint villages. The roads between vast verdant meadows were extremely marvellous. It was a great warming-down experience for all the rush that had us pumped. The places were picture perfect and I got tonnes of display photos for my social media handles. Just saying’ guys!

Nyingma Monastery

With traditional dance and a soul-warming bonfire, we let sleep take us to the past and in the air, under the paraglider, all over again. In the morning that followed, after breakfast, we headed out to check out the fabled city of Dharamshala. The city needs no description, we all know how beautiful it is and most of us have explored its obscure secrets too. Soon, our trip’s itinerary signalled its curtain call and we knew we had to head home.


Here’s my quick guide to Bir Billing 

Why Visit?

Soar between the majestic Himalayan landscape. Explore the heart of nature on foot and visit tranquil monasteries scattered around the area.

 

How to Reach? 

Bir Billing is 50 km from Dharamshala and you can cover it in about 2 hours. Fly to Dharamshala or take an overnight bus from ISBT in New Delhi.

What to do? 

It is a perfect place for long weekends and adventure trips. A hiker’s paradise, the area can also be explored on bikes and bicycles.

Special Tips 

– Maintain physical fitness

– Wear light shoes, and make sure they are tied secure

– Make sure the shoes have a good grip for landing and takeoffs

– Wear a light wind-sheeter and heavy-duty types of denim

– Sunscreen and rad looking shades for all those DPs you’ll be clicking.

– Lastly, DO NOT forget to enjoy. 🙂

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Unseen Uttarakhand’s Most Beautiful Landscapes http://www.scrolldroll.com/uttarakhandlandscapes/ Fri, 13 Jul 2018 15:19:14 +0000 http://www.scrolldroll.com/?p=15365

The parts of Uttarakhand we generally hear about are  places like Rishikesh, Badrinath, Kedarnath, Nainital and Jim Corbett. But Uttarakhand is also a home to several hidden treasures. One such region that caught our attention lately was the Rudraprayag district in Uttarakhand. This district nestles some of the most pristine valleys and picturesque treks in […]

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The parts of Uttarakhand we generally hear about are  places like Rishikesh, Badrinath, Kedarnath, Nainital and Jim Corbett. But Uttarakhand is also a home to several hidden treasures. One such region that caught our attention lately was the Rudraprayag district in Uttarakhand.

This district nestles some of the most pristine valleys and picturesque treks in the Himalayan region. Most of the destinations in this region is a 14-15 hours journey from the capital city of Delhi. This time we decided to experience the untouched natural beauty of this region. We carried a Panasonic Lumix G85 camera with us – a camera that good help us shoot the beautiful landscapes as well as create amazing 4k videos and time lapses.

Here are a few of the best landscapes we shot during this trip and how we captured it.

Deorial Tal Trek & The Lake

Deoria Tal is one of the high altitude lakes located in Uttarakhand. This lake is reachable by a 2.3 km  trek from Sari Village – 55 km from the city of Rudraprayag. The trek route to this lake gave us some of the most beautiful frames of the mountains around this region. We used the Intelligent auto feature of the Panasonic Lumix G85 to capture these images. It produced good results adjusting the camera settings to capture the landscape quite well.

Mountains and Clouds Enroute (Shot On Panasonic Lumix G85)

Deoria Tal Lake (Shot On Panasonic Lumix G85)

Deoria Tal lake is surrounded by beautiful and lush green meadows. We used the time lapse feature of our Lumix to create a 4k video of this landscape. We clicked around 300 images in a span of 15-20 minutes which the camera compiled for this video.


Time Lapse Near The Deoria Tal Lake (Shot On Panasonic Lumix G85)

Chopta

Chopta is a small hamlet in the Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand, around 450 km from Delhi. This place is more popular as the base of the treks of Tungnath and Chandrashila. We were lucky to get a few amazing shots of this place.

To get better detail in the photos we clicked here, we lowered the aperture size and delayed the shutter speed in the manual mode of the camera.

The landscape in Chopta (Shot On Panasonic LumixG85)

With the clouds moving swiftly from one mountain peak to another at Chopta, it was the perfect setting for a time lapse. This time we placed the Lumix on a small rock where the frame seemed perfect. We managed to capture two-time lapses at Chopta. We were delighted with the end result we finally got.

 


Time Lapse Shot at Chopta (
Shot On Panasonic Lumix G85)

Chandrashila Trek

A 6 km trek from Chopta leads you to the Chandrashila peak, at an altitude of 4000m. The trek is one of the most picturesque routes when it comes to beginner treks. Vast meadows, blue skies, evergreen forests and views of Himalayan peaks make it a lensman’s delight. 4 km into the trek, you reach the Tungnath temple – the World’s highest Shiva temple and 2 km from Tungnath lies the Chandrashila peak.

We captured several photos and shots during this trek. We preferred using the Intelligent Auto mode to take photos here because we did not want to waste our time in adjusting our camera settings. We had tested this feature earlier and it had produced good results.

The landscapes enroute the Chandrashila trek (Shot On Panasonic LumixG85)

We reached Chandrashila – one of the most picturesque mountains peaks and were met with some disappointment. The weather was cloudy and bad. The majestic views from the mountains were missing and a complete cloud cover left us with little light for photos.

We however adjusted the camera setting to capture two-time lapses at Chandrashila.


Time Lapse At An Altitude of 4000M – The Chandrashila Peak

Step Farms In Rudraprayag District

One of the most prominent things in the Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand is the vast step farms spread all over the mountains. We came across several landscapes of this kind throughout our journey. We captured most of the shots using the Intelligent Auto feature of the Lumix as we were constantly on the move and it was the best way to click photos without worrying about adjusting you camera settings every time.

Here are a few good shots we captured.

Step-farms at Rudraprayag (Shot On Panasonic Lumix G85)

At the end of the trip, we barely had space on our memory cards  to shoot more videos. It was a divine experience in its totality and to be honest I cannot wait to get back to explore deeper into the Rudraprayag district.

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Romancing The Mountains: Chandrashila Trek http://www.scrolldroll.com/chandrashila-trek-travelogue/ Fri, 13 Jul 2018 10:40:46 +0000 http://www.scrolldroll.com/?p=15323

The Chandrashila trek is one of the best Himalayan treks for beginners. The base of the trek Chopta is about 450 km from Delhi on the Badrinath highway making it easily accessible. The entire region is rich in natural splendour with meadows, evergreen forests, and views of Himalayan peaks. The rich natural beauty along with the […]

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The Chandrashila trek is one of the best Himalayan treks for beginners. The base of the trek Chopta is about 450 km from Delhi on the Badrinath highway making it easily accessible. The entire region is rich in natural splendour with meadows, evergreen forests, and views of Himalayan peaks. The rich natural beauty along with the easy trek route makes it one of the most preferred treks and suitable for people of all ages.

In 2013, I had visited the Chandrashila peak for the first time. Since then I have been to the peak on four separate occasions. This was my fifth journey to the beautiful peak perched at an altitude of 4000 metres. A paradise for nature lovers with the very little crowd and exhilarating views, this was a place that makes me feel like a second home.

When I was on a trip to Uttarakhand to explore some of the lesser known destinations, I decided to go for the Chopta-Tungnath-Chandrashila trek again. What made this decision more luring was the fact that I was carrying a Panasonic Lumix G85 – a great device to capture time lapses and landscapes. I was hoping to get some great shots during the trek.

We started our trek from Chopta, a small hamlet located in the Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand about 450 km from Delhi. At an altitude of 2680 m, Chopta is itself a very beautiful off-beat destination in Uttarakhand and serves as the base for the Tungnath and the Chandrashila treks.

 

Chopta
Shot On Panasonic Lumix G-85

We also managed to shoot a time-lapse of Chopta with our Lumix we were quite delighted with. It took us a number of shots and 15-20 minutes to finally create this time lapse.

Time Lapse Of Chopta
Shot On Panasonic G-85

We started our trek at about 10 am in the morning. The trek route is paved with stones and well marked. Hence, this is not a trek where you need a guide to accompany you. There are a number of dhabas, run by the locals along the trek route. Hence, it is advisable to not carry too much food and water with you.

The trek takes you through stunning landscapes with exhilarating views. After a kilometre of the trek, you reach the Bugyals – meadows in the local language. These Bugyals with the backdrop of tall evergreen trees and peaks is a treat to the eyes. As you gain altitude, the views become more and more beautiful. Though the cloud cover had restricted the views of the snow-capped Himalayan peaks yet the views were amazing. We stopped at a few places to click photos of the beautiful landscape. However, it started raining and we had to pack our cameras in our bags. The best thing about a mirrorless and compact camera like the Panasonic Lumix G85 is that is its light weight and small size that easily fits in your trekking bags.

Chopta Tungnath Trek Route
Shot On Panasonic Lumix G-85

We decided to halt our trek at Tungnath – the world’s highest Shiva temple at an altitude of 3680m. This temple is reachable after a 4 km trek from Chopta. It took us around 2.5 hours to reach Chopta including our breaks to have tea and click photographs. Basic accommodation facilities are available near this Temple. There are a number of small dhabas at Tungnath which serve simple yet delicious food.

At this point, it started raining heavily and we decided to stay overnight at Tungnath and go to Chandrashila the next morning. We visited the Tungnath temple, and the aarti performed here with the sounds of bells and drums echoing from the nearby mountains makes it really magical.

Tungnath – The World’s Highest Shiva temple
Shot On Panasonic Lumix G-85

The next morning we resumed the trek after the rains stopped. The route to Chandrashila from Tungnath was much more beautiful than the route we had covered. It appeared like we were walking between the clouds.

Tungnath Chandrashila Trek Route
Shot On Panasonic Lumix G-85

It took us around 1 hour to finally reach the Chandrashila peak perched at 4000m. The beautiful views I had witnessed during my previous visits here had disappeared with the white clouds. Nevertheless, the time you spend at such an altitude is always special.

The Ganga Maa temple at Chandrashila Peak
Shot On Panasonic Lumix G-85

We also captured a time lapse of the temple at Chandrasila with our Lumix.

Time Lapse Of The Ganga Maa Temple at Chandrashila Peak
Shot On Panasonic Lumix G-85

We spend about an hour here before we were threatened by rains again and we left for Tungnath. It took us around 40 mins to descend down to Tungnath and another 1.5 hours to reach Chopta that completed our trek.

 

Here’s a quick summary of this trek.

Trek Base: Chopta (250 km from Rishikesh and 450 km from Delhi)
Altitude: 2680 m

Total Trek Distance: 6 km
Final trek point: Chandrashila peak
Altitude: 4000 m

Where to stay/camp? 

Tungnath Temple
Altitude: 3680 m
Trek Distance to Tungnath from Chopta: 4 km
Trek Distance from Tungnath to Chandrashila peak: 6 km

Uttarakhand is a treasure trove for all sorts of explorers, it has something or the other to offer to everyone. If Kashmir is the crown jewel of India’s landscape then Uttarakhand is the grand necklace embedded with countless precious gems. Chandrashila-Tungnath trek is just one of the many gems in the Unseen Uttarakhand, but it’s a destination that deserves your absolute attention and time. Go ahead and plan your next weekend getaway to this amazing destination.

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A Heavenly Trek To Deoria Tal In Uttarakhand http://www.scrolldroll.com/deoria-tal-travelogue/ Thu, 12 Jul 2018 12:17:53 +0000 http://www.scrolldroll.com/?p=15288

I had heard about the beautiful landscapes and picturesque Himalayan valleys in the Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand. Also called ‘Dev Bhoomi’, the mountains in Uttarakhand nestle some of the most revered shrines in the most picturesque landscapes. One such place in Uttarakhand with several mythological legends and stories is the Deoria Tal. Deoria Tal is […]

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I had heard about the beautiful landscapes and picturesque Himalayan valleys in the Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand. Also called ‘Dev Bhoomi’, the mountains in Uttarakhand nestle some of the most revered shrines in the most picturesque landscapes. One such place in Uttarakhand with several mythological legends and stories is the Deoria Tal.

Deoria Tal is a high altitude lake perched at an altitude of 2348 metres. It is located in the Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand. Sari Village, located around 420 km from Delhi and 55 km from Rudraprayag city serves as the base camp of this trek. The total trek distance from Sari Village to Deoria Tal is 2.3 km.

I visited Deoria Tal recently during my Unseen Uttarakhand trip with three other friends. This place was not in our plans initially and we had moved to Chopta – the base of the Tungnath and Chandrashila trek where one of my friends who had been to Deoria Tal earlier suggested we also visit this place.

Sari Village is around 20 km away from Chopta towards Rudraprayag. We were welcomed by beautiful views of the blue skies, step farms on the mountains and lush green landscape as we approached Sari. We were carrying a Panasonic Lumix G85 to click the landscapes here. Being a compact camera that easily fitted in our bags, it was a good change from the bulky DSLRs I used to carry in my earlier trips.

The landscape around Sari Village – The base of the Deoria Tal Trek
Shot on Panasonic Lumix G-85

The trek that starts from the Sari Village, takes you through dense forests. The entire trek route is paved with stones thus making sure that you can go ahead for this trek and complete it without a guide. As you go up higher, the forests get denser. The trek is easy and has a gradual ascent, it offers spectacular views of the neighboring mountain ranges. We turned on the Intelligent Auto mode of the Lumix to capture the photos here.

View of the mountains peaks from the trek route
Shot on Panasonic Lumix G-85

The 2.3 hours trek took us close to 1.5 hours to complete and we arrived at Deoria Tal.

 

First view of the Deoria Tal Lake
Shot on Panasonic Lumix G-85

It is believed that the Gods (Devas) used to bathe in this lake and hence the name Deoria Tal. This lake is also believed to be the place where Yaksha (a nature spirit) asked Pandavas to answer his questions before trying to drink water from this lake. Yudhishthira, the eldest Pandava was the only one who could answer the questions and saved the lives of his brothers.

The landscape around the lake is lush green with sprawling meadows, rich in flora and fauna. It is the perfect place to relax and rest on the green grass after the trek.

 

Meadows around Deoria Tal
Shot on Panasonic Lumix G-85

We then spent some time to capture a time lapse of the scenery around the Deoria Tal lake. After moving round the perimeter of this lake, we found a perfect place to position the Lumix with a view of the clear blue sky. In around 20-25 mins, the time lapse was finally created.

Time Lapse at Deoria Tal

On a clear day, one can see the views of high altitude snow-capped Himalayan peaks from this lake. The reflection of these peaks in the waters of Deoria Tal makes it the perfect setting for great photographs. We were unlucky to find that the weather was not in our favour. Though the Himalayan peaks were covered in a blanket of clouds, we did shoot the reflections of the clear blue sky on the Deoria Tal waters here.

It was some hard-work going around the lake to find the perfect spot where the reflections of the sky was appearing clearly in the water. We then switched to the manual mode of the Lumix85 and increased the depth of field to capture the reflections.

Reflections of the Blue Sky on Deoria Tal
Shot On Panasonic Lumix G-85

It was soon turning dark and though there were camping options here, we preferred to descend down and get back to Sari village. The descend here was a cake-walk and was complete in barely 45 minutes.We were happy to have completed the trek easily and had some good shots from our Lumix.

This tranquil lake reeks of natural spirituality and the cool breeze takes away all the fatigue that you might have gathered on the hike up-hill. It is a picture-perfect spot and a haven for nature and wildlife photographers. Deoria Tal is relatively less crowded compared to the other destinations in Uttarakhand and you should definitely pay the Lake of the Gods a visit soon.

 

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Walking the Roads Less Travelled to Enjoy Good Old Nainital like a Local http://www.scrolldroll.com/walking-the-roads-less-travelled-to-enjoy-good-old-nainital-like-a-local/ Sun, 01 Jul 2018 06:12:14 +0000 http://www.scrolldroll.com/?p=14840

Rowing through the Naini Lake, riding the ropeway and admiring the scenic Tals—that’s pretty much how a tourist would plan out their trip to Nainital. However, what’s missing in this mainstream itinerary is enjoying the roads less travelled and being at places that are not explored much by the tourists in Nainital. But, why give […]

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Rowing through the Naini Lake, riding the ropeway and admiring the scenic Tals—that’s pretty much how a tourist would plan out their trip to Nainital. However, what’s missing in this mainstream itinerary is enjoying the roads less travelled and being at places that are not explored much by the tourists in Nainital. But, why give the conventional travel plan a second thought, you may ask? The answer lies in the unperturbed beauty of Nainital that can only be witnessed when you trot the town like a local.
Out of all the innumerable trips that we Delhites take to Nainital, it was just this one time I and my small group of friends decided to explore Nainital in the most uncommon way possible over a weekend. And, that is how it became the most memorable trip to Nainital.
So, here’s how we traversed Nainital like a local.

Visiting Thandi Sadak

What the Mall Road of Nainital is to tourists, Thandi Sadak is to locals. A casual stroll on Thandi Sadak in the evening gives a spectacular view of the surrounding hills and the cool breeze originating from Naini lake makes you feel one with nature. Bonus: Since the entry to Thandi Sadak is not known to most tourists, it is much less crowded than the Mall Road.


Exploring Higher Altitude Areas on Foot
Taking a return ropeway ride from Mallital to snow viewpoint is a customary activity for all tourists in Nainital. However, what added a pinch of twist to the regular ride for us was not opting for the ropeway to return from snow viewpoint. Instead, we decided to walk up to Mallital from snow viewpoint. This was an opportunity to explore the higher altitudes of Nainital and come across places that no cab driver in Nainital would take you to. It’s indeed a long walk down the hills but coming across the never-before-seen places and views of Nainital make every bit of it worthwhile. You also don’t have to worry about the unpredicted hunger pangs which you might get during the long walk. A small Maggi and tea joint on the way will help you refuel the body.

Eating Like a Local

Cafes and restaurants located on the mall road are bustling with tourists for obvious reasons. However, to eat like a local in Nainital and to make the most of your eating time, head to the Flats instead. The small tea stalls here sell bun mask with tea and that is one of the most loved food combinations amongst the locals. And what’s more to it? Your evening snacking session at the Flats won’t cost you more than Rs. 50 per person and you can also enjoy the kids showing off their football skills in the playground nearby along with the mesmerizing view.

Getting the ‘Koi Mil Gaya’ Feels

One of my friends on the trip being alumni of St Joseph’s College, a visit to the school was a must. Exploring the vastness of the school and the serenity that students must feel studying in a hill station, Koi Mil Gaya being shot here was not a surprise!

Horse-riding along the Hillock

While a lot of tourists take cabs or use their own vehicle for commuting and sightseeing, the two best ways of experiencing the town is walking and horse-riding. One can take a horse from Bara Pathar to Tiffin Top, a route which is fascinating and adventurous at the same time.

Like I mentioned earlier, I had the company of a local to make me experience Nainital like I’d never visited before, though I had been to the town several times as a kid. True, sometimes it just takes a fresh perspective to visit the same place and experience a new one!

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3 nights 4 days trip to a detox getaway to Balipara, Assam http://www.scrolldroll.com/3-nights-4-days-trip-to-a-detox-getaway-to-balipara-assam/ http://www.scrolldroll.com/3-nights-4-days-trip-to-a-detox-getaway-to-balipara-assam/#comments Thu, 07 Jun 2018 14:00:39 +0000 http://www.scrolldroll.com/?p=14229

Balipara in Assam’s Sonitpur district is a pristine gem masked by the lush greenery and tucked deep in the heart of the Assamese countryside. Recently, I had the pleasure of staying at the Wild Mahseer discovered through Plushescapes, but my words would never be able to capture the essence of this North-eastern paradise. I boarded a […]

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Balipara in Assam’s Sonitpur district is a pristine gem masked by the lush greenery and tucked deep in the heart of the Assamese countryside. Recently, I had the pleasure of staying at the Wild Mahseer discovered through Plushescapes, but my words would never be able to capture the essence of this North-eastern paradise. I boarded a Guwahati-bound flight from the IGI Airport in Delhi, 2 and a half hours later, the flight touched down at the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport in Guwahati. A beautiful 4 hours’ drive through the undulating landscape of Assam’s lush green tea estates and dense forests led me to the heart of Balipara, where the resort stands, and it effortlessly blends in the wilderness.

On my first trip to Assam, the Wild Mahseer hosted me for 3 nights and 4 days. It was an other-worldly experience, which took me out of our dimension, space and time.

The folks at Wild Masheer welcomed us very warmly. The first cup of tea was magic, the Assamese tea that I was served was an experience like no other.
After a couple of hours of resting and chilling in the bungalow, we were served dinner at the dining area called The First Flush. The food was one of the best things here, and I could not help but cheat my diet regime, during all meals. I regret nothing, and I can have an extra workout session to shed the extra weight that I might have gained here.

The following day, we were taken to Nameri National Park after a nice and heavy breakfast.Nameri lies in the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas. It’s about 35km away from the town of Tezpur and shares a border with Pakhui Wildlife Sanctuary of Arunachal Pradesh. The vegetation at Nameri is semi-evergreen and moist deciduous forests. Along with cane and bamboo groves, narrow strips of open grassland along rivers abound in Nameri.

At Nameri, we signed up for rafting the Loi Bhoroli River, it was more of a calming experience rather than the usual adventurous rafting in rapids.The pygmy hog foundation was next in the itinerary, a great initiative to protect and conserve the innocent animals from being hunted. The heavens blessed us with a massive rain. It rained cats and dogs, literally; drenched but excited and screaming internally we also explored the fisheries division. This was followed by lunch where almost everyone over ate like starving wild animals.

Post which we had an amazing tea tasting session and also got acquainted with the different processes involved in the manufacture of different varieties of tea. The day ended with a scrumptious dinner.

Next day began with a leisure walk through nature in Eastern Himalayan Botanic Ark. It hosts different varieties of endemic fauna, including bamboo and other trees.There is also a beautiful nursery that has some of the most beautiful flowers that I have seen in all of my conscious life. We spent our time at the ark doing some yoga, Shirin Yoku (forest bathing) and tree hugging.

Lunch followed this walk, which was followed by a tour of the resort. It’s surrounded by dense forests with countless birds chirping and chirruping all day long, literally from dawn to dusk. Flowers with animated natural beauty and hues of happiness and freshness abound in the resort and surrounding areas. The bungalows, at Wild Masheer were quite impressive. They are deeply rooted in history with some of them being over a hundred years. They are ornamented and lavish, yet humble and simple.

On the final day, we visited this village called Mishing, for a peek at the daily routine of the countryside. The forest is actually man-made and the tribe that inhabits the place has been fighting poachers and encroachers to protect it. The rustic setting of the village was not just impressive and simple, it was also very practical. The houses are elevated to protect them from the frequent floods and are completely made of bamboo. The people were engaged in their chores, some were weaving baskets, some were fixing things in their huts. This place captures the essence of Assamese countryside. 

Soon it was time for me to leave – and bid adieu to this ecological paradise. With a heavy heart, we said goodbye to the place and headed home. Hoping to visit the place again, very soon.

Here’s my quick guide to explore the Balipara and Nameri National Park

Why Visit?
Nestled snugly, on the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas, Balipara is a biodiversity hotspot which will take you extremely close to the lush heart of nature. It will take you away from the mechanized city clatter and the dearth of fresh air in urban settlements.

Best Way to making Bookings
Plushescapes is the best way to book your stay at this picturesque resort. You can check out the website for more travel experiences.

How to Reach?
Balipara lies in the far eastern side of Assam. You can fly down to either Guwahati or Tezpur and then hire a cab (or train from Guwahati) to Balipara. If you have time, you can choose to cover the journey up to Guwahati by train, followed by a cab or bus ride to Balipara.

What to do?
It is a perfect place for long weekends and leisure trips. Nature enthusiasts will find countless interests in the Nameri National park and spend their entire day exploring the Eastern Himalayan Botanic Ark. Visiting Mishing is a must for everyone, the village will definitely inspire you to start living sustainably and reduce the wasteful practices of city life.

Special Tips
– Carry insect repellents to protect yourself from the insects in the forest
– Wear dark with dull clothes like brown, beige, and darker shades of green
– Do not use deodorant and perfumes when you explore the forests
– Keep the noise levels as low as possible, human noise scares animals and you might miss out on many majestic birds and animal
– Lastly, DO NOT forget to enjoy. 🙂

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White Sand, Untouched Beaches & Clear Blue Waters – My Top 8 Picks For South Goa http://www.scrolldroll.com/south-goa-travelogue/ Thu, 07 Jun 2018 09:12:57 +0000 http://www.scrolldroll.com/?p=14176

Every winter my news feed is filled with photographs of friends living it up in the forever sunny Goa. India’s one and only beach party capital, Goa appears in the bucket list of every Indian youngster who is looking to let loose and party it up with friends. It is also one of the most […]

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Every winter my news feed is filled with photographs of friends living it up in the forever sunny Goa. India’s one and only beach party capital, Goa appears in the bucket list of every Indian youngster who is looking to let loose and party it up with friends. It is also one of the most preferred honeymoon destination, not to mention the state with the maximum inbound tourist traffic with holidaymakers from around the world flocking to Goa for some sun and sand. After all, who can resist Goa’s beachy vibe! However, the mandatory Goa check-ins on my news feed are more often than not restricted to the crowded and highly commercial beaches of North and Central Goa, while the south remains a relatively unexplored territory among tourists.

Over the years I have explored several beaches and little known destinations in South Goa. These beaches may not be buzzing with activity as those in the north but they certainly have a charm of their own. South Goa is a heaven for nature lovers and those looking to enjoy a more relaxed vacation amidst the serene surroundings, away from the crowds.

Here are my top picks to explore in South Goa.

1. Palolem Beach 

Palolem Beach is probably the most commercialized beach in South Goa and on this list. This beach has a number of beach shacks with a variety of sea food options available. Both ends of this beach have rocks jutting out into the Arabian Sea, making for a majestic view.

This beach is characterized by calm clear waters making it one of the most ideal beaches in Goa for swimming. Kayaking is another popular adventure sport available to tourists on this beach. There are a number of cafes and restaurants in the vicinity to satiate your hunger pangs and if you are traveling on a budget, multiple bagpacker hostels are within walking distance from the beach.

2. Agonda Beach

Agonda is another popular beach in South Goa known for its pristine sand and clear blue waters. That said, don’t let the seemingly calm sea fool you. With rapid currents and often aggressive waves, this beach isn’t ideal for a swim. But for those seeking a little chilling by the beach, there is plenty to do and explore. Agonda has a number of beach shacks that serve food, drinks and even offer stay. Some of the most luxurious accommodation options as well as pocket-friendly hostels are located along the beach, so your stay is sorted no matter what your budget is.

3. Kakolem Beach

You may have heard about the previous two beaches but we bet Kakolem is a name you aren’t familiar with. Probably the most secluded beach in South Goa, Kakolem is located quite close to the comparatively more popular Cola Beach. To get here, one needs to follow GPS and then go off-road for a short distance leading to a series of stairs that finally lead to this serene beach haven. There is only one shack located on this beach and that has pretty much everything you need to make the most of your time here.

Kakolem beach is probably the least crowded beach in Goa with breath-taking views, aquamarine blue waters and unspoilt sands. The awe inspiring view of the sun setting into the sea on this beach is hands down the most beautiful I’ve ever witnessed in Goa!

You can read my entire travelogue about Kakolem Beach here

4. Cola Beach

Cola Beach is located within close proximity to Kakolem beach and is yet another secluded beach in South Goa. Previously unheard of, Cola Beach has gained prominence very recently and is undoubtedly one of the best places in India to enjoy views of the cast ocean akin to the exuberant international destinations. One needs to go off road for about 10-15 mins and then descend a few stairs to reach this beach.

Another highlight of this beach is a freshwater lagoon located only a few meters away from the sea which is an ideal place for Kayaking or simply taking a dip. There are a few beach resorts and restaurants located on this beach as well.

5. Fort Cabo De Rama

Cabo De Rama is another hidden gem in South Goa. It is one of the largest and oldest Forts of Goa. It is believed that this was one of the places where Rama, Lakshmana and Sita had stayed during their 14-years of exile and hence the name. Some of the most important battles in the history of this coastal state have taken place at this ancient Fort.

Despite its rich history, this Fort is sparingly visited by people owing to it being located in a remote corner of South Goa. The fort offers spectacular views of palm trees and clear blue ocean, especially during the Sunset hours.

 

6. Polem Beach

Polem beach is probably the southernmost beach of Goa lying along the Goa-Karnataka border. Almost 60 kms from the Dabolim airport and 70 kms from Panaji, Polem is generally visited only by the locals because of its far flung location.

The beach is sparsely crowded with only a few shacks on the shores and is a good option for people who wish to stay away from the otherwise crowded and buzzing Goa.

7. Talpona Beach

The Talpona Beach is another virgin beach of South Goa located in the relatively calmer city of Cancona. This beach is located near a river by the same name and a fishing village. The Talpona river joins the Arabian sea here.

A tranquil beach with clean golden sand and a couple of shacks on the shores, it is an ideal place to enjoy some quite time while being surrounded by stunning views. The Talpona river nearby is also an abode for bird watchers.

8. Galgibaga Beach

The final diamond in the rough on our list is Talpona’s next door neighbor – Galgibaga beach. Located barely a kilometer away from Talpona, Galgibaga has even fewer visitors than its peer. This beach is famous as a nesting ground for Turtles and hence has restricted tourism infrastructure. There are only a few restaurants located at a distance from the shores and there are no shacks or signs of commercialization on this beach, making it an ideal destination for tourists seeking solitude.

There are a few more places in South Goa that have piqued my interest lately, which include the Betul Beach, Benaulim Beach, Cavelossim Beach, Butterfly Beach, Honeymoon beach and Canaguinim Beach. I look forward to exploring them during my future trips. But for now, these are my top picks. If you are done with all the partying and being surrounded by the crowds, and are looking for some ‘me time’, head on down to one or more of these hidden gems in South Goa. I promise you, it will be worth the drive!

 

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Kakolem Beach – The Hidden Paradise Of South Goa http://www.scrolldroll.com/kakolem-beach-travelogue/ Mon, 04 Jun 2018 14:28:25 +0000 http://www.scrolldroll.com/?p=14038

My visit to the Kakolem Beach Every year thousands of tourists from India and abroad arrive in Goa – the country’s party capital. Beaches, cheap booze, water sports, nightlife and much more makes it one of the best places in India to enjoy a memorable vacation with your friends. However, what fascinates me the most […]

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My visit to the Kakolem Beach

Every year thousands of tourists from India and abroad arrive in Goa – the country’s party capital. Beaches, cheap booze, water sports, nightlife and much more makes it one of the best places in India to enjoy a memorable vacation with your friends. However, what fascinates me the most about Goa isn’t the buzzing beaches and parties. While central and North Goa are a haven for party animals, nature lovers like me prefer going to the quiet and calm beaches in the south and the little known Kakolem beach was just my kind of place.

It was my fourth trip to Goa and very different from my previous visits. This time I was in the middle of my Delhi to Kanyakumari bike trip and had reached Goa with an objective to visit some of the most unexplored beaches of the coastal state. One beach that particularly caught my attention was the Kakolem beach. I had been to the Cola beach earlier and was simply blown away by the mesmerizing beauty and the untouched sand there. The natural beauty of Cola beach made me look for other similar untouched Goan beaches and that’s when I stumbled upon Kakolem.

The Kakolem Beach

During my research, I did find a few photos of the Kakolem beach and 2-3 travelogues which further increased my curiosity about this place. However, the information I was able to collect was very little. All that I knew was that this beach is located somewhere near the Cola beach and there was a small trek involved to get to this beach. South Goa, trek and very little information online meant that this beach would be clean, have very few visitors and would be relatively untouched – and that was exactly what I was out seeking.

I followed the Google maps from my hostel in Palolem and in around 15 mins, the GPS left me on a lonely road – around a kilometer ahead on the main road from the point where one needs to go-off road to reach Cola beach. There were two dusty trails – the one on my left led to Kakolem beach and the other to Cashewnut plantations. (I know this because I took the right trail with good 2-3 km of off-roading before the road left at a dead end near a temple.)

The off-road towards Kakolem beach passes through a private property and hence visitors are required to pay Rs 100 as an entry charge. However, for some reason, the barricade was open and there was nobody there to collect money. Probably, the tourist influx so was so low that they had left the entry gate unmanned. I went off-road on my bike for about half a kilometer to reach the parking spot.

The vast ocean and the beautiful beach below was clearly visible from the point where the bikes and other vehicles were parked.

An aerial view of the beach from the parking lot

There are a series of stairs you need to descend down in order to reach the beach. After around 5-10 mins of walking down the stairs, I finally reached Kakolem only to be awe-struck by the aquamarine green waters of the endless sea with pristine surroundings. It was definitely the most secluded and beautiful beach in Goa I had ever been to.

Untouched Sand, Clear Blue Green Waters & Breathtaking Views Aplenty

There were just 3 visitors on the beach when I reached Kakolem. The only beach hut and restaurant on the beach had no guests either. For a long time after the 3 visitors left, I was the sole person on the beach beside the two people working at the beach shack. It was in this solitude that I enjoyed one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever witnessed.

The Sunset at Kakolem Beach

As it turned dark, I left the place and reached my hostel in Palolem. The next day I left for Cola Beach, my favourite beach in Goa before I had seen Kakolem. I was visiting the place after almost a year and was surprised to see a number of beach shacks along Cola. There were just 2 beach shacks on my first visit to Cola around a year back but now the number had gone up to around 6-7. Another secluded and beautiful place in Goa was witnessing commercialization. I only hope that Kakolem doesn’t meet the same fate and it remains a place where only a handful of nature lovers visit.

Here’s my quick guide to explore the Kakolem Beach: 

Why Visit? 

I personally think that Cola and Kakolem beaches are the most beautiful beaches of Goa I have been to. It’s unlike other Goan or Indian beaches with a very little crowd, pristine sands, and clean waters.

How to Reach? 

Kakolem is located in one of the quieter corners of South Goa. The best way is to follow the GPS which leads you to the start of the off-road before this beach. From that point, take the dusty trail on your left to reach the parking. You can see the vast ocean at a distance from the parking.

What to do? 

Kakolem isn’t one of the bustling beaches of Goa. There’s just one beach shack where you can have a drink or two and food. Besides this, there’s nothing commercial here. The waters here are clean but dangerous. Visit this place only if you want to simply sit, relax, chill and enjoy the exquisite untouched beauty. Most of the mobile networks and Internet don’t work here.

Special Tips 

– Swimming in the waters of Kakolem beach would be extremely dangerous. Avoid that.

– The sunset here is beautiful. You shouldn’t miss that, however, staying here after dark isn’t advisable.

– Cola Beach and Fort Cabo De Rama are two other places close to Kakolem beach that you shouldn’t miss.

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